TWIE 150: Diamond Fertilizer

This Week in Engineering - Fertilizer from diamonds; crowdfunded space telescope; flashlight powered by hand heat; IKEA refugee shelter; alcohol space mystery; and WiFi sees through walls.

Fertilizer from diamonds
http://news.discovery.com/tech/alternative-power-sources/diamonds-are-a-farmers-best-friend-130702.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1
http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmat3696.html

Crowdfunded space telescope
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/5954/Asteroid-Miner-to-Launch-Crowdfunded-Space-Telescope.aspx
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/first-crowdfunded-space-telescope-ranks-among-top-25-campaigns-kickstarter-history

Flashlight powered by hand heat
http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/teenager-invents-flashlight-powered-warmth-your-hand-6C10485762
http://youtu.be/9CCGUMkcbjg
http://www.engineering.com/ElectronicsDesign/ElectronicsDesignArticles/ArticleID/5973/Bright-Kid-Creates-Heat-Powered-Flashlight.aspx

IKEA refugee shelter
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/5946/IKEA-Debuts-Flatpack-Refugee-Shelter.aspx

Alcohol space mystery
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23780-quantum-mechanics-enables-impossible-space-chemistry.html#.UdnzbY6QfWR
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/how-alcohols-react-frigid-expanse-space
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-06/uol-tqs062713.php

WiFi sees through walls
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-06/cheaper-handheld-device-lets-you-see-through-walls


blog comments powered by Disqus
Recent Video
TWIE 164: Lunar Solar Power
27034 Views    
Transcript For This Video

Fertilizer from diamonds
Is there anything more alluring than diamonds? How about using them to improve chemical reaction efficiency? Chemist Robert Hamers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a new way to turn nitrogen into ammonia -- a critical step in processing industrial fertilizer -- by using ground-up industrial diamonds. By first coating the diamond particles in hydrogen, and then misting them with water and exposing them to ultraviolet light, electrons were released and exposed to nitrogen, for ammonia conversion. The new process may save energy since it does not need high temperature or pressure, yet it still needs a source of ultraviolet light, so time will tell if it's a net gain. And you know how I love a net gain.

Crowdfunded space telescope
When darkness falls, engineers look to the stars. Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has raised over $1.5 million from over 17,000 people in a Kickstarter campaign to fund the ARKYD -- the world's first public space telescope. Space telescopes are necessary for finding asteroid mining candidates, but the ARKYD will allow members to book time on the telescope -- allowing access to technology previously accessible only to experts. The ARKYD also has an external screen where backers can post "selfies" -- pictures of themselves broadcast into space, captured by another camera with Earth in the background. The ARKYD is scheduled to launch in 2015. And that's cool, but I don't think I can make it sexy. Sorry.

Flashlight powered by hand heat
When the lights go out, engineers use their own body heat. So, why not use the heat from a hand to power a flashlight? That's the idea behind the hollow flashlight, which uses the temperature differential between the hand and ambient air for power. The flashlight is an entry into this September's Google Science Fair from fifteen-year-old Ann Makosinski of British Columbia, Canada, and it uses Peltier tiles to generate 57 mW -- which is far more than the half-milliwatt needed to barely illuminate an LED. The light is dim, but enough to find your keys in a dark room. Oh, and if you think my light is brighter than usual, it's because I've got a fever. I need Acetaminophen.

IKEA refugee shelter
Nights can be scary, especially for anyone in a refugee shelter. Now, flat-pack furniture retailer IKEA, collaborating with the UN Refugee Agency and Swedish Refugee Housing Unit, has designed a prototype of a lightweight, flat-packed house for easy deployment to refugee camps. The building has a metal frame holding lightweight plastic panels for the roof and walls, and an aluminum shade for keeping it cooler during the day and warmer at night. The shelter is also equipped with a solar panel to generate some nighttime light or provide USB power. The current prototype costs $10,000 US per unit and is being tested in Ethiopia, though IKEA believes the price will eventually come down to about a thousand dollars.

Alcohol space mystery
Nothing says "engineering nights" like alcohol -- and how it behaves in space. Specifically, could interstellar methanol react with hydroxyl radicals to create methoxy -- first discovered in space last year -- in an environment so cold that such reactions should be impossible, according to classic rules of chemistry? Now, chemists from the University of Leeds in Britain have theorized such reactions occur through quantum-tunneling, where chemicals react without the energy to overcome the reaction barrier. They recreated the extreme cold of space in a lab and found the reaction did occur -- and fifty times faster at sixty-three Kelvin than at room temperature, suggesting space chemistry could be much more exotic than we previously thought.

WiFi sees through walls
If there's one thing that powers an eng